Hong Kong leader presses on with extradition bill undeterred by critics

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s leader said on Tuesday that her administration was determined to push through an extradition bill that could see individuals sent back to mainland China for trial, despite mounting opposition locally and internationally.

The proposed legislation has stoked mass protests in the former British colony, which was promised a high degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

On Monday, the government said it would bypass legislative procedure to expedite the passage of amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which the U.S. State Department last week described as threatening the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Opponents had disrupted a succession of legislative sessions meant to scrutinize the bill, with brawls breaking out in the legislative council.

“Valuable time for deliberation has been lost,” Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters.

“The most serious issue is that we couldn’t see a way forward, how to break this deadlock other than to force me to scrap this bill, but this is unrealistic,” she told reporters.

She said the bill would now be sent directly to the full legislature on June 12 for a second reading, to try to pass it before the legislature’s summer recess.

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